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David Broder: Dana Milbank Is A Tool

they're running and they're on fire


There is trouble in River City.

Today the supposed dean of the liberal Washington commentariat, David Broder, took a swipe at his colleague and well known twit, Dana Milbank:

In the space of 10 days, thanks in no small part to my own newspaper, the president of the United States has been portrayed as a weakling and a chronic screw-up who is wrecking his administration despite everything that his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, can do to make things right.

This remarkable fiction began unfolding on Feb. 21 in the Sunday column of my friend Dana Milbank, who wrote that “Obama’s first year fell apart in large part because he didn’t follow his chief of staff’s advice on crucial matters. Arguably, Emanuel is the only person keeping Obama from becoming Jimmy Carter,” i.e., a one-term failure.

A week later, presumably the same anonymous sources persuaded Milbank to pronounce that Obama “too often plays the 98-pound weakling; he gets sand kicked in his face and responds with moot-court zingers

It sounded, for all the world, like the kind of orchestrated leaks that often precede a forced resignation in Washington. .”

And on Tuesday, The Post led the paper with a purported news story by Jason Horowitz saying that a president with Obama’s “detached, professorial manner” needed “a political enforcer” like Emanuel to have a chance of succeeding, “because he [Emanuel] possessed a unique understanding of the legislative mind.” Unfortunately, the story said, “influential Democrats are — in unusually frank terms — blaming Obama and his closest campaign aides for not listening to Emanuel.”

Fascinating. One Democrat shill calls out another Democrat shill for straying from the fold. And it is truly amazing to see Broder, who was according to all accounts on the Post payroll during the Valerie Plame affair, the brouhaha over Bush’s National Guard record, the misrepresentation of the response to Katrina, etc., etc., accuse his paper running a “purported news story.” I’d suggest he read his own paper more often.

What is happening is that power is rapidly sliding from Obama’s grasp. Democrat members of congress are discovering that not only does Obama not have the power to reward them, he doesn’t have the power to punish them and he has put their jobs in jeopardy by his monomaniacal pursuit of radical changes to the our government and culture.

While Broder, and presumably this is received wisdom from his White House sources, clears Emanuel of being the source for the stories clearly he believes Emanuel is the source of the narrative:

Emanuel, who left a leadership post in the House to serve his fellow Chicagoan, Obama, has worked loyally for the president and is not suspected personally by his colleagues of inspiring these Post pieces.

But, as one White House staffer said to me, “Rahm likes to win,” and when the losses began to pile up, he probably vented his frustrations to some of his old pals in Congress. It’s clear that some of them are talking to the press.

A safe bet is that Emanuel is going to be spending more time with his family and his tutu by the Christmas recess.

But they greater fault lines are underscored between those who have talked to Milbank who believe Obama is a doofus in need of someone to lead him to the men’s room and those who talked to Broder who are still swilling the Kool-Aid.

None of this would rise above the level of petty Washington gossip except that some of Emanuel’s friends are so eager to exonerate him that they are threatening to undermine the president. Milbank, presumably reflecting what he hears, calls Obama “airy and idealistic” and says he readily succumbs to “bullying” from Republicans and Democrats alike. I hope the mullahs in Iran don’t believe this.

From too many years of covering politics, I have come to believe as Axiom One that the absolute worst advice politicians ever receive comes from journalists who fancy themselves great campaign strategists.

Milbank now is urging Obama to emulate Gordon Brown, who is probably just weeks away from being voted out as Britain’s prime minister, and start bullying people himself. That is — well, it’s in the great tradition.

Fortunately for our posterity, though it may be very painful if not fatal to a lot of us in the short run, there is a much larger body of evidence supporting Milbank’s informants than Broder’s. We are on the cusp of a disastrously failed administration.

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